Magic vs Heat: What Went Right

So far during the 2007-2008 NBA season, whenever teams see Miami on the schedule, fans, front office members, and players alike appear to get a collective grin on their faces, as the Heat and their now 9-35 record are sure to make their opponents look good.

That grin tends to grow a little wider when the Heat are without Dwayne Wade, Shaquille O'Neal, and Udonis Haslem as they were Wednesday evening. Once again, Miami failed to disappoint as the Magic played a fairly sloppy game and won handily, 107-91. So what did Orlando do well against this depleted Miami bunch?

1. Rebounding. The Magic hit the glass in a big way as they grabbed 52 rebounds as opposed to just 29 by the Heat. All-Star Dwight Howard led the team with 13 boards and Hedo Turkoglu added 12 from his small forward position. Orlando also grabbed 12 offensive boards, more than two above their season average, and allowed just 5.

2. Hedo's on fire. It will be difficult for Hedo Turkoglu to make the Eastern Conference All-Star team, but he's certainly making it a tough decision. Hedo followed up his Player of the Week honors by filling up the stat sheet with 27 points on 8/13 shooting, 12 rebounds, 5 assists, and a blocked shot.

3. Free throws are free again. The Magic didn't hit 95% from the line as they did against Boston on Sunday, but they did manage to connect on 33 of 40 attempts for 82.5%, which is more than 10 percentage points higher than their season average. 33 made free throws will win you a game on most nights.

4. Hot shooting. I say hot shooting, you say bad defense, we're both right. Miami entered the game ranked 25th in opponents field goal percentage, allowing better than 46% per game, and they managed to bring that lack of heart and hustle to Orlando. The Magic were 34/69 from the field for 49.3%, despite missing a good amount of wide open shots.

5. Defense down the stretch. In the NBA, most games involve a team getting out to a sizeable lead, the trailing team making a furious run, then running out of gas with about five minutes left. This game more or less followed suit as the Magic were comfortable out in front, then let the lead nearly decimate (83-80 w/ 11 minutes left), then regained control. Orlando held Miami to just 11 points in the final 11 minutes of the game, as the Heat shot 3/16 down the stretch. You could actually see Pat Riley's greasy hair turning more gray as he was gazing at his assistant coaches trying to figure out which one that he'll eventually drop this mess of a team upon.